Streams

Rural Residents Losing Access to Intercity Transportation, Report Says

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 10:39 AM

(Helena-Jackie Yamanaka, YPR) About 3.5 million rural residents lost access to scheduled intercity bus, ferry, and rail transportation between 2005 and 2010. That’s according to a new report from the U-S Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The report says North Dakota had the lowest percentage of rural residents with access to intercity transportation.

BTS reported significant changes for the state  since 2005, including reductions in Greyhound Lines bus services and the suspension of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited New Orleans-Jackson route.

Montana has the Amtrak’s Empire Builder route that crosses the northern tier of the state. And in the Montana Legislature, the House Transportation Committee is considering a resolution to increase passenger rail service in the state, lest they become another North Dakota.

HJ 15 says, “Some communities in Montana are poorly served by public transportation, and passenger rail services provide mobility for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, students and businesspeople,” the 62nd Montana Legislature urges Congress to secure funding for Amtrak’s North Coast Hiawatha Route and the Empire Builder.

Meanwhile, the BTS report notes air service coverage for rural residents remained unchanged.

About 100 rural communities received subsidies under the Essential Air Service Program. EAS funding expires at the end of the year unless Congress funds the program.

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